Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce its subscription streaming television service in more than 100 countries during the first half of next year. Such a global launch could help make Apple a serious competitor with established services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that already have an international presence. The service is expected to offer original programming free to iOS device owners while allowing users to sign up for third party services and TV network subscriptions. It will launch in the U.S. a few months prior to the global rollout. Continue reading Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Apple’s Tim Cook Asks Bloomberg to Retract China Spy Story

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is the latest and most prominent executive to call on Bloomberg to retract the claim that its technology supply-chain had been corrupted by Chinese surveillance microchips. According to two Bloomberg reports this month, Chinese spies infiltrated the technology supply chain with a surveillance microchip installed by Silicon Valley-based server company Supermicro. Those tiny chips ended up in the data center hardware of as many as 30 companies, including Amazon and Apple, added the report. Continue reading Apple’s Tim Cook Asks Bloomberg to Retract China Spy Story

Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

According to Amazon, Alexa can perform 50,000+ skills, from turning on lights to playing music. The tech giant is now focused on improving Alexa’s skills to compete with Google for voice assistant dominance. Last month, Amazon empowered Alexa developers, by allowing them to charge users for purchases within skills, with the ultimate goal of making Alexa a more comprehensive, powerful platform. Former Alexa head of product Ahmed Bouzid noted that the path is “exactly what we saw with the App Store for the iPhone.” Continue reading Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

Amazon Maintains its Lead in Growing Smart Speaker Market

The Amazon Echo lineup continues to dominate the smart speaker market with a 63 percent share in the U.S., according to an online consumer survey conducted during July and August by Strategy Analytics. While Amazon models represent the majority of smart speakers currently in use, Google follows at 17 percent and Apple trails at 4 percent. The survey found that 88 percent of U.S. homes with smart speakers currently have at least one Amazon speaker, and 31 percent indicate they have at least one Google speaker. Additionally, 58 percent of households with smart speakers are already using two or more devices. Continue reading Amazon Maintains its Lead in Growing Smart Speaker Market

Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Just last week, Facebook announced its two new Portal video chat devices featuring 12-megapixel cameras with HD video and AI-powered software. New information suggests that the social giant is also readying a camera-equipped device codenamed “Ripley,” designed to work with your TV for video calling in addition to entertainment services including Facebook Watch. According to an insider with direct knowledge of the project, Ripley — which will use the same core tech as Portal — is likely to be announced by the spring of 2019. Continue reading Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Facebook Launches Android Version of Game Streaming Site

Facebook introduced its Fb.gg online gaming hub this summer, created to draw game streamers and their followers away from rival sites such as Amazon-owned Twitch. The hub — featuring videos based on games and streaming celebs that Facebook users follow, as well as Liked Pages and Groups — is going mobile with an Android launch, now in its beta testing stage. The Android version is expected to provide gamers who stream via Facebook Live a more prominent landing page for improved discovery. Continue reading Facebook Launches Android Version of Game Streaming Site

Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

As the number of options for watching great content has grown, the ability to search and find that content has lagged behind. An ideal TV guide, from a single remote control (or smartphone), would offer search, sorting and personalization, and suggest the next program we might want to watch. One such possibility is the $100 Caavo Control Center, which enables up to four devices to be plugged in to a single remote control. A second is the Reelgood smartphone-based streaming guide that tracks over 50 streaming services. Continue reading Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

According to a new study from Country Financial, a majority of U.S. consumers are sharing their login info for mobile, shopping and streaming accounts, but are not necessarily sharing the tab. The study found that overall, 74 percent of consumers say they share accounts for Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Uber with their family members and friends (and, in some cases, even their exes). However, more than 36 percent of those who freely share their accounts also indicate that they do not share the monthly costs of those accounts with others. Continue reading U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

Government Backs Apple and Amazon Denials of Spy Chips

As we reported last week, Bloomberg published a story claiming that China had secretly installed microchips on motherboards built by Supermicro that were used in data center servers of companies such as Apple and Amazon. In the first official response from the U.S. government, Homeland Security issued a statement indicating that it has “no reason to doubt” the denials issued by Apple, Amazon and Supermicro in the wake of the report. The Homeland Security statement is similar to comments released by the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre. Continue reading Government Backs Apple and Amazon Denials of Spy Chips

ISPs and Cable Groups Sue to Stop California Net Neutrality

Four groups representing Internet providers and cable companies filed a lawsuit to block’s California’s new law to restore net neutrality to the state. The American Cable Association, CTIA – The Wireless Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, and USTelecom – The Broadband Association, which together represent AT&T, Verizon Communications, Comcast, Charter Communications and many other such companies, filed their lawsuit after the U.S. Justice Department filed its own. Continue reading ISPs and Cable Groups Sue to Stop California Net Neutrality

China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story today, Chinese spies infiltrated nearly 30 U.S. companies including Amazon and Apple by embedding tiny chips into servers in the technology supply chain. In 2015, malicious microchips were reportedly embedded in servers bound for U.S. companies, which resulted in compromised software used in numerous hardware devices. While the report cites former government officials and “senior insiders” at Apple, both Amazon and Apple — as well as motherboard manufacturer Supermicro and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — have firmly disputed the findings. Continue reading China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

On November 1, Amazon will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for all its U.S. employees, including part-time workers and those hired through temporary agencies. More than 250,000 Amazon employees, including those at Whole Foods and 100,000+ workers hired for the holiday season, will benefit from the boost. The company also stated it would lobby to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 per hour for almost ten years. Many interpret Amazon’s move as a response to a tightening labor market and political pressure. Continue reading Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

AT&T’s Ad Unit Xandr Revs Up to Offer Targeted Advertising

AT&T revealed its new strategy for advertising, to help monetize its $85.4 billion Time Warner acquisition. Brian Lesser, chief executive of new advertising unit Xandr (after Alexander Graham Bell) described plans to deliver ads targeting individuals and households. His argument is that the media industry needs to run ads to pay for expensive, critically acclaimed series, because revenue from subscription services isn’t enough. Xandr consists of recent purchase AppNexus, AT&T Adworks and its other adtech services. Continue reading AT&T’s Ad Unit Xandr Revs Up to Offer Targeted Advertising

Amazon, TiVo Unveil Over-the-Air Products for Cord Cutters

Amazon recently introduced its Fire TV Recast, a networked DVR, and TiVo debuted its new set-top box, the TiVo Bolt OTA, with both companies’ products aimed at giving cord cutters a new way to enjoy content. Fire TV Recast allows consumers to watch and record over-the-air TV content with a Fire TV, Echo Show or other compatible mobile device. TiVo’s new STB joins its existing line of Bolt devices, including the voice-controlled Bolt Vox DVRs, and enables anyone with a digital antenna to watch live over-the-air TV. Continue reading Amazon, TiVo Unveil Over-the-Air Products for Cord Cutters

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